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Monday, 24 June 2019 16:38

Sydney Uni team finds popular Android games hosting malware

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Sydney Uni team finds popular Android games hosting malware Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Sydney have found that counterfeit versions of popular games like Temple Run, Free Flow and Hill Climb Racing are often laced with malicious software and placed in the Google Play Store.

The team, from the University and CSIRO's Data61 unit, investigated more than a million apps and found 2040 counterfeits over a period of two years, a statement from the University said.

“Many fake apps appear innocent and legitimate – smartphone users can easily fall victim to app impersonations and even a tech-savvy user may struggle to detect them before installation,” explained School of Computer Science academic and cyber security expert Dr Suranga Seneviratne.

“In an open app ecosystem like Google Play the barrier to entry is low so it’s relatively easy for fake apps to infiltrate the market, leaving users at risk of being hacked."

“While Google Play’s success is marked by its flexibility and customisable features that allow almost anyone to build an app, there have been a number of problematic apps that have slipped through the cracks and have bypassed automated vetting processes.

“Our society is increasingly reliant on smartphone technology so it’s important that we build solutions to quickly detect and contain malicious apps before affecting a wider population of smartphone users."

NSW Cyber Security Network director Todd Williams believes the research has the potential to place New South Wales on the map as a leader in cyber security.

“The NSW Cyber Security Network is very pleased to be able to support the world-leading research of the University of Sydney. This research further strengthens NSW as a leader in cyber security."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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